Managing Change

“It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” — W. Edwards Deming, PhD

It has been said that the essence of leadership is managing change. In this article we will explore how effective leaders do just that. We will cover:

  • Your people’s resistance to change.
  • Your role as a leader in implementing change.
  • Overcoming resistance to change and gaining buy-in.

Resistance to Change

Why do most people resist change?

  • Fear of the unknown — They don’t have enough information and/or reassurances to feel comfortable.
  • They might say “I want things to get better but stay the same”, but is that possible?
  • What they’re really thinking is “What’s in it for me?
  • What they most want to know is “Will I/we be OK?
  • The truth is people only willingly embrace change for one of two reasons: pain or gain. They are either in such pain that anything has to be better, or the reward vs. the risk is so great they are happy to throw the dice for a chance to achieve the projected outcome and escape the current state.

The Keys to Overcoming Resistance to Change

Your people will accept the change if you explain why it’s necessary and that you have a plan. They want reassurance they will be OK when it’s over.

Effective Communication

“Managers often worry about over-informing. In my experience, that’s impossible. We all tend to underestimate what others can contribute when they understand a situation.” — Bob Burg, The Go-Giver Leader

As a leader, your job is to keep them well informed so slow down and think:

  • Who needs the message?
  • When do they need it?
  • How should they receive it?

Tips to Deal with Change in the Workplace

Tell them why and how things are changing and how important it is to the organization’s health and sustainability. Don’t sugar coat it, let them know: “We could all be out of a job if we don’t adjust to meet the emerging needs of our clients and embrace changing technology.” Acknowledge that change can be scary: “There will be some uncertainty and bumps in the road, I know we will get through this and prosper by working together.”

Explain the change process and its different stages. Keep in mind that the faster your people get to the acceptance stage, the more promising things will look for your organization. During the transition there will be fair amount of leaving the old ways behind and adopting the new ways, this can be stressful. But to embrace the future we have to let go of the past.

Maintain open communication channels. Share details regularly about the process, progress being made, and any challenges that arise — there will definitely be some!

Things You Need to Know as a Leader

How changes will impact:

  • How you work.
  • How your team works.
  • Your team’s productivity and workflow.
  • Your clients.
  • Your bottom line.

Business leaders must recognize the different stages of change and anticipate its impact in order to take preventive measures.

Frank Manfre



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Frank Manfre

Frank Manfre


Business consultant & coach w/ 35 years experience in leadership roles in for profit and nonprofit organizations focused on developing leaders & org health